LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has remained flat at 9 percent for the third straight month. The state announced the job figures Wednesday after the partial federal government shutdown caused a one-month interruption in the report. The state Department of Technology, Management & Budget says the 9 percent unemployment for August through October is little changed from the October 2012 rate of 9.1 percent. Michigan's jobless rate remains higher than the country's October rate of 7.3 percent. The state agency says Michigan seasonally adjusted civilian workforce fell by 11,000 in the latest month to 4.725 million. It says the number of people working also fell by 11,000 to 4.301 million. The state says total employment in Michigan is up by 77,000 since October 2012.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Abundant rain and snowfall have given the Great Lakes a boost this year, but it's too early to declare an end to slumping water levels that have plagued the inland seas since the late 1990s and made life miserable for cargo shippers and marina operators, federal scientists said Wednesday.
All five of the lakes were significantly higher when measured at the end of October than a year earlier, when much of the nation was mired in drought. Even Lakes Huron and Michigan, which have fared worst during the low-water period and in January hit their lowest level since record keeping began in 1918, have risen nearly a foot since October 2012.
But Huron and Michigan, which scientists consider one lake because they are connected and their water level relative to sea level is identical, still were 17 inches below their long-term average for the month. Lake Superior was slightly below average and Lake Erie was normal. Lake Ontario, the only one with regulated levels, was 1 inch above normal.
The dramatic rebound shows "how extremely wet conditions were last spring," said Keith Kompoltowicz, watershed hydrology chief with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district office in Detroit. "The snowmelt, combined with heavy rainfall, allowed levels to rise very quickly."
The Army Corps works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Canada's fisheries and oceans department to measure water levels from gauges and stations around the Great Lakes and to predict future trends.
In a forecast released Wednesday, scientists with the U.S. agencies said all five lakes probably would be below their long-term monthly averages by next April, around the time they begin their seasonal rise as winter snowmelt replenishes them. Huron and Michigan were projected to lag 16 inches below normal, although under a best-case scenario the deficit could be as little as 8 inches.
Superior and Erie are expected to be around 3 inches below normal and Ontario about 6 inches below, although experts said the lakes could wind up higher or lower than projected depending on winter precipitation.
"Will we see another very wet period in 2014?" Kompoltowicz said. "Or will we return to maybe drier conditions? That may mean losing what we've gained."
While Superior could return to normal if winter precipitation is heavy, it would take several more wet years for Huron and Michigan to recover, Kompoltowicz said.
Great Lakes levels fluctuate seasonally and have experienced multi-year ups and downs. They were low in the 1960s, but by the 1980s were so high that Lake Michigan cottages were swept away.
In the late 1990s, they were jolted by a sharp decline that experts said apparently was linked to an El Nino event - a warming of Pacific Ocean temperatures that can affect weather patterns far away. It apparently caused a rapid acceleration in evaporation from the lakes that has continued since, said Drew Gronewold, a hydrologist with NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Michigan and Huron have been below their long-term averages for 14 consecutive years, the longest period on record.
It's unclear whether the rampant evaporation is the wave of the future, Gronewold said. But researchers have found that winter ice cover on the lakes is shrinking, while water temperatures are warming - conditions that would appear to favor continued high rates of water loss to the atmosphere.
This year's improvement has provided at least a temporary boost to shipping companies that have been forced to transport smaller loads of iron ore, coal and other commodities. Many vessels have hauled 5,000 to 6,000 tons more cargo this year than in 2012, said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association. But that's still a good 5,000 tons below normal, he said.
His group is lobbying Congress to provide more money for dredging shallow harbors.
Regardless of which direction water levels go, "Mother Nature is not going to solve the dredging crisis," he said.
(MARYSVILLE) -- A federal judge has ordered the government to return $136,000 to the owners of a Chinese restaurant in the Port Huron area. Judge Sean Cox says the government missed a deadline to file the case in court. The money was seized last year by the Internal Revenue Service. The owners of China Lite restaurant in Marysville were accused of making bank deposits of less than $10,000 to avoid mandatory reporting to the government. The owners denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been filed. The owners made a claim to get the money back. That triggered a 90-day deadline for the government to file the case in court, but the deadline was missed by a day. The case isn't over: Taxpayers could be ordered to pay $58,000 in legal fees.
(DELAWARE TOWNSHIP) -- An 18-year old Caseville man was killed in a two-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon along M-25 in Sanilac County's Delaware Township. Sheriff's deputies say an initial investigation showed that a GMC Jimmy driven by the victim, was traveling north on M-25 near Huron Line Road around 4 p.m. when the vehicle crossed the centerline and struck a southbound UPS truck driven by a 49-year old Bad Axe man. The Caseville man was pronounced dead at the scene. The Bad Axe man was transported to Harbor Beach Hospital and later flown by Life Net to Saginaw Covenant Cooper Hospital for treatment of serious, life-threatening injuries. The Sanilac County Sheriff's Office Accident Investigation Team continues to investigate the crash and names of those involved are not being released at this time. Deputies were assisted Tuesday by the Michigan State Police, Delaware Township and Sherman Township Fire Departments, and Huron Central and Sanilac EMS personnel.
(DECKERVILLE) -- Sanilac County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a breaking and entering that took place at the Harbor Drug II Pharmacy, located at 2046 Black River Street in Deckerville Tuesday night. The Deckerville Fire Department was sent to the building just after 10:30 p.m. after dispatchers received a call from Thumb Alarm indicating a fire alarm going off inside the business. Firefighters arrived on scene and found the south entrance door pried open. Deputies say that unknown individuals used some type of prying tool to gain entry. Multiple types of controlled prescription medications were stolen, including Oxycodone. Deputies were assisted by the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office K-9 tracking dog. Anyone with information on this case are asked to contact the Sanilac County Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau at 800-881-5911 or 810-648-2000 or the Deckerville Police Department at 810-376-6651.
(SANILAC COUNTY) -- The Sanilac County Finance and Administration Committee met Tuesday afternoon and approved a request from Sandusky Arts Council president Rick Cook to proceed with a face-lift project for the gazebo on the courthouse lawn. The project will open up the north side of the gazebo and add platforms that can be used as a stage for concerts, church services, or town meetings. The Sandusky Arts Council is hoping to raise $8500 for the face-lift through fund raising and donations, and has already contributed $1000 to begin the process. The proposal is expected to be approved when it goes before the full Board of Commissioners next week. Anyone interested in helping with the gazebo face-lift project is asked to contact Kevin Kohn at Kohn's Music Store in Sandusky, or Rick Cook at 810-837-0132. The Sanilac County Board of Commissioners meet next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Speaker Township Hall.
Pictured: An artist's conception of what the gazebo will look like following the face-lift project.
(PECK) -- Advance tickets for the 8-man Championship Football Game between Peck and Rapid River this Friday evening at Greenville High School are available at the Peck High School Office between 8 a.m.-2 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 20 and Thursday, Nov. 21. The price is $8 per ticket.
The Homegrown Radio Show has been on a bit of a hiatus during the month of November due to high school football playoffs, but it's coming back this Saturday in a big way! We're very proud to announce that the thumb's very own rock and roll cover band, The Hooligans, will be performing live on the show this Saturday! Tune in to WMIC 660 AM from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. to hear a live show from The Hooligans on the Homegrown Radio Show.
(TUSCOLA COUNTY) -- A 22-year old Lapeer woman remains hospitalized at Hurley Medical Center in Flint with life-threatening injuries she sustained in a hunting accident near Mayville on Monday. State Police Troopers from the Caro Post say the woman called 9-1-1 to report that she had shot herself while hunting on private property along Maier Road, north of Snover Road. Troopers, along with Mayville EMS and fire personnel located the woman in a field. Investigation revealed that she had shot herself in the thigh with a 20-guage shotgun. She was flown by Life Net to Hurley Hospital. The woman's name has not been released and no one else was involved in the hunting mishap.
(ALBERT TOWNSHIP) -- Police say a local hunter has died after being accidentally shot in Montmorency County. 52-year old Michael Heisler of St. Clair Township was shot while hunting on Friday on state land in Albert Township. Police say Heisler didn't return from hunting on the first day of Michigan's firearms deer hunting season. He was found shot in the leg.